19 Best Things to Do in Rwanda (With Gorilla Trekking)
Rwanda, located in East Africa, is a stunning country known for its breathtaking landscapes, lush national parks, and fascinating wildlife.
Most tourists visit Rwanda to see the majestic gorillas for themselves. However, the country's pristine lakes, national museums, and nature walks are also the main features of the tourism industry.
Whether you’re a nature lover, adventure seeker or simply looking for a unique travel experience, Rwanda has something to offer. Here are the top 19 things to do in Rwanda.
Most Recommended Thing to Do
Visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial.
Top Choice Hotel
Kigali Serena Hotel
Our Top Choice Restaurant
Our Top Choice Bar for Nightlife
Papyrus Lounge & Champagne Bar
Best Time to Visit
Sunny weather, June to September, cultural festivals, breathtaking.
The average temperature in Kigali, Rwanda is moderate.
Buses, taxis, motorcycles, bicycles, walking, car rentals, shared rides.
Average Cost ($, $$, $$$)
My Top Recommendation
Kigali, Rwanda is an enchanting city that captivates visitors with its vibrant culture and breathtaking landscapes. Spend your mornings exploring the bustling local markets, where the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and colorful array of fruits and vegetables awaken your senses.
In the afternoons, take a leisurely walk through the peaceful Kigali Genocide Memorial, paying tribute to the lives lost during the devastating genocide, and reflecting on the resilience and courage of the Rwandan people. End your day with a sunset view from the top of Mount Kigali, where the city's twinkling lights come alive, casting a magical glow over this growing metropolis.
What You'll Need to Bring
- Valid passport
- Travel insurance
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Lightweight and breathable clothing
- Sunscreen and hat
- Insect repellent
- Adapter for electrical outlets
- Rain jacket or umbrella (depending on the season)
- Language guide or translation app
- Cash in local currency (Rwandan franc)
Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, is a vibrant and rapidly developing city with a lot to offer travelers. To make the most of your visit, there are a few essential items you'll need to bring. First and foremost, make sure your passport is valid and up to date. It's also a good idea to have travel insurance to cover any unexpected events.
Since Kigali is a city best explored on foot, comfortable walking shoes are essential. Pack lightweight and breathable clothing to stay cool in the city's tropical climate. Don't forget to protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen and a hat. Insect repellent is also important to ward off mosquitoes. Rwanda uses a different type of electrical outlet than many other countries, so bring an adapter to charge your electronic devices. Depending on the season, a rain jacket or umbrella may come in handy. Finally, having a language guide or translation app can make it easier to communicate with locals. It's also a good idea to have some cash in the local currency, the Rwandan franc, for small purchases and transportation.
Table of Contents
1. Gorilla Trekking in Volcanoes National Park
The highlight of any trip to Rwanda is a visit to Volcanoes National Park to see the endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.
With a population of just 1,000 individuals, Rwandan mountain gorillas are a rare species, and trekking to see these gorilla groups is an unforgettable experience.
Mountain gorilla trekking requires a bit of physical exertion, as you make your way through dense jungle and steep slopes to find them. However, the effort is well worth it as you come face to face with these majestic primates and observe them going about their daily lives.
Gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that should not be missed.
You can also go golden monkey trekking in Volcanoes national park! Golden monkeys are rare and incredible to see in person.
2. Visit Akagera National Park
Named for the Kagera river, the Akagera National Park is a wildlife lover's paradise, located in the east of Rwanda. The park is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including elephants, lions, buffalos, and many species of birds.
A game drive in the park is a great way to spot these magnificent animals and experience the beauty of the Rwandan savanna. With its rolling hills, scenic lakes, and diverse wildlife, Akagera National Park is a true gem in the heart of Rwanda.
Take a tour with an expert tour guide to learn more about the park’s history, ecology, and the animals that call it home. Remember to use a reputable tour operator with great online reviews.
3. Hike Mount Bisoke
This active volcano located in Volcanoes National Park offers breathtaking views from the top.
The hike to the summit is challenging but rewarding, with opportunities to spot primates and birds along the way. The hike to the summit takes around 4-5 hours, and the trail winds its way through dense forest and rugged terrain.
At the top, you will be rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding landscapes and a sense of accomplishment for completing the hike. This is a must-do for adventure seekers and nature lovers.
4. Visit Lake Kivu
Lake Kivu, lying near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, is Rwanda's largest lake. It offers a peaceful escape from the bustling city. Take a boat tour to explore the many islands of Lake Kivu or walk some of the Congo Nile Trail to enjoy the scenic views.
With its crystal-clear waters and serene atmosphere, Lake Kivu is a perfect place to relax and unwind. In fact, Lake Kivu boasts a lovely sandy beach. Whether you’re sport fishing, swimming, or simply enjoying the views, a visit to Lake Kivu in Great Rift Valley is a must.
5. Visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial
The country's past is marked by the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which over 800,000 people were killed. This was the most brutal and efficient killing spree in human history.
Visiting the Kigali Genocide Memorial is a sobering reminder of the past and a powerful tribute to the victims. The memorial serves as a reminder of the horrors of the past and a testament to the resilience of the Rwandan people.
The Kigali Genocide Memorial is a must-visit for anyone interested in learning about the country’s history and paying their respects to the victims of the Rwandan genocide.
You can also visit the mass grave at Nyamata Church, a place of worship and remembrance.
6. Explore Kigali, Rwanda's Capital City
Rwanda’s capital city is a vibrant, modern metropolis with a rich cultural heritage. Visit the markets, museums, and restaurants to get a taste of the city’s unique blend of tradition and innovation.
Kigali is a bustling city that is rapidly changing and growing. With its modern shopping centers, lively markets, milk bars, and excellent restaurants, Kigali is a must-visit for anyone looking to experience the energy and pulse of Rwanda.
Check out the Rwanda Art Museum and State House Museum, which is the former Presidential Palace. Here, you can learn about the events leading up to the genocide.
There is also the Inema Art Center, which boasts works by international and local artists.
7. Take a Cultural Tour
Rwanda is a country rich in culture and history. Take a tour of the local villages to learn about traditional customs, music, dance, and art.
You will have the opportunity to interact with local people and gain a deeper understanding of their way of life. A cultural tour is a great way to experience the true heart and soul of Rwanda.
Try a banana beer and make a stop at tea plantations, such as the Gisakura tea estate or the Pfunda tea estate, to learn about the tea industry in Rwanda.
8. Visit the Nyanza King's Palace & King's Palace Museum
The King's Palace museum was once the home of the Rwandan King, and it is a fascinating window into the country’s rich cultural heritage.
The palace has been beautifully restored and is now a national museum showcasing traditional Rwandan life and culture.
A visit to Nyanza King’s Palace museum is a must for anyone interested in learning about the history and culture of Rwanda.
And just half an hour from the King's Palace Museum is the Ethnographic museum, which provides a fascinating insight into the different ethnic groups of Rwanda.
9. Take a Scenic Drive
Rwanda is a country of breathtaking landscapes and rolling hills, and there is no better way to experience its beauty than on a scenic drive.
From the lush forests of Volcanoes National Park to the rolling hills of Akagera National Park, there are many stunning drives to choose from.
With its diverse landscapes and breathtaking views, a scenic drive in Rwanda is an unforgettable experience.
10. Visit the Local Craft Markets
Rwanda is known for its beautiful crafts and textiles, and the local markets are a great place to see them. Browse the stalls and find unique souvenirs, from woven baskets and beaded jewelry to traditional pottery and textiles.
The markets are also a great place to interact with the local people and learn about their crafts and traditions.
11. Visit the Gorilla Guardians Village
Also known as the Iby’Iwacu Cultural Village, this is a living museum showcasing traditional Rwandan life and culture. Visitors can learn about traditional customs, music, dance, and art, and see demonstrations of local crafts and cooking.
The Gorilla Guardians Village is run by reformed poachers and gives visitors the chance to explore Rwandan culture through crafts and cuisine.
A visit to the Gorilla Guardians Village is a brilliant opportunity for anyone interested in learning about the traditional way of life in Rwanda.
12. Explore the Twin Lakes of Burera and Ruhondo
These stunning lakes are located in the northwest of Rwanda and offer breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes.
Take a boat tour to explore the lakes and visit the local villages to learn about life along the shore. This is also an opportunity for water bird watching.
With its stunning scenery and peaceful atmosphere, a visit to the Twin Lakes is a must-do for anyone looking for a peaceful escape.
13. Visit the Karisoke Research Center
This research center was founded by renowned primatologist Dian Fossey, and it is a fascinating window into the world of gorillas.
Visitors can learn about the center’s work and its role in conserving mountain gorillas. A visit to the Karisoke Research Center is a must for anyone interested in gorillas and conservation.
14. Visit the Musanze Caves
These stunning caves are located in the north of Rwanda and offer a unique opportunity to explore a hidden underground world.
Take a guided tour to see the caves and learn about their history and formation. The Musanze Caves are a must-visit for anyone looking for a unique adventure.
15. Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride
For a truly unique and breathtaking experience, take a hot air balloon ride over Rwanda’s stunning landscapes.
Soar above the rolling hills and forests for a bird’s eye view of this beautiful country.
A hot air balloon ride is a must-do for anyone looking for a truly unforgettable experience in Rwanda.
16. Explore Nyungwe Forest National Park
Nyungwe National Park is a lush and diverse rainforest located in the southwestern part of Rwanda.
Whether you are an adventure-seeker or a nature lover, this park is a must-visit for anyone looking to experience the beauty and diversity of Rwanda's rainforests.
Nyungwe forest is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including primates, birds, and other exotic animals.
Take a guided tour to explore the forest and learn about its unique ecosystem and biodiversity. Enjoy the only canopy walk in East Africa just a 90-minute hike from the Uwinka Visitor Center. Watch blue monkeys and golden monkeys fly from tree to tree on the canopy walk.
Or, try out chimp tracking and bird watching. Ask park tour guides where the best spots are for wildlife sightings. There is something for everyone at Nyungwe Forest National Park.
17. Chimpanzee Trekking in Nyungwe National Park
Chimpanzee trekking provides an unforgettable experience and is, without a doubt, one of the top things to do in Rwanda. The trekking takes place in Nyungwe National Park, not to be confused with Volcanoes National Park, which is where you will find mountain gorillas.
This activity offers a chance to get up close and personal with these fascinating primates in their natural habitat.
Guided by experienced park rangers, you will hike through the forest in search of chimpanzee communities and observe their daily activities.
This is an unforgettable experience and a must-do for anyone looking to get closer to these remarkable animals.
18. Discover Gishwati Mukura, National Park
Gishwati Mukura National Park is a beautiful and diverse national park located in northwestern Rwanda.
This park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including primates like golden monkeys, birds, and other exotic animals. Take a guided tour to explore the park's lush forests, rolling hills, and stunning lakes.
With its diverse landscapes and rich biodiversity, Gishwati Mukura National Park is a must-visit for anyone looking to experience the natural beauty of Rwanda.
Whether you are a nature lover, adventure seeker, or wildlife enthusiast, there is something for everyone at Gishwati Mukura National Park.
19. Stay at Hotel des Mille Collines
With its prime location, comfortable rooms, and range of amenities, this hotel is the perfect base for exploring all that Kigali and Rwanda have to offer.
Known internationally as Hotel Rwanda, this is where a hotel brave manager hid over 1200 people during the Rwandan genocide. The story was so high-profile the United Nations put pressure on the Rwandan forces to ensure safe passage for those trapped inside.
With a variety of room types available, from budget-friendly single rooms to spacious family rooms, Hotel des Mille Collines is the perfect choice for travelers of all kinds.
The hotel's facilities include a restaurant serving delicious local cuisine, a bar for a nightcap, and a beautiful terrace for al fresco dining.
The hotel also offers free Wi-Fi, making it easy to stay connected while on the go.
FAQs From Visitors to Rwanda
There are several questions that visitors to Rwanda ask. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions, which will help visitors to Rwanda prepare for their trip.
Where is Rwanda located in Africa?
Rwanda is located in East-Central Africa, bordered by Uganda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi to the south and west.
How is Security in Rwanda?
Security in Rwanda is generally considered good. The country has a low crime rate, and the government has made a concerted effort to improve security in recent years.
Visitors are advised to take the usual precautions and be aware of their surroundings, especially at night.
How are the Weather and Climate in Rwanda?
The weather and climate in Rwanda vary depending on the region, with a tropical climate in the low-lying areas and a temperate climate in the higher altitudes.
The rainy season runs from February to May and from September to December, with the rest of the year being relatively dry. The dry season is a great time to check out the Congo Nile Trail!
When is the best time of year to go on a safari in Rwanda?
The best time of year to go on safari in Rwanda is during the dry season, which runs from June to September and from December to February.
These months offer the best visibility and are the best time to see wildlife, including gorillas and chimpanzees. These incredible creatures are some of the most popular tourist attractions in Rwanda.
What clothes should I bring on the safari?
When packing for a safari in Rwanda, it's important to bring lightweight, breathable clothing in neutral colors, such as beige, brown, or green.
A light rain jacket is also recommended, as well as comfortable footwear for hiking and walking.
What are the attractions in Rwanda?
The top tourist attractions in Rwanda include the canopy walk, gorilla trekking, and game drives in Akagera National Park, the Nyungwe Forest National Park, and the capital city of Kigali. Moreover, is important to visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial and pay your respects to the victims of the Rwandan genocide.
Can I request a custom safari?
Yes, you can request custom safaris when traveling to Rwanda, or any country in East Africa. Custom safaris can be arranged through local tour operators and travel agencies. You can book private custom game drives or game walks with an expert tour guide.
Summing up: Awesome Things to Do in Rwanda
So, there we have it: 19 things to do in Rwanda.
Rwanda is a country that offers something for everyone, whether you're a nature lover, adventure seeker, or history buff.
From the breathtaking landscapes of Volcanoes National Park and Akagera National Park to the vibrant culture and history of Kigali, there is always something new and exciting to discover in Rwanda.
Whether you're seeking adventure, relaxation, or cultural exploration, Rwanda has something to offer.
Whether you are looking to track gorillas in the mist, take part in chimpanzee trekking, or visit one of its many beautiful national parks, there is always something new and exciting to experience in Rwanda.
So why wait? Book your trip today and discover the beauty and diversity of this remarkable country for yourself!